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Well folks, my face is still twitching away. However, thankfully we seem to have tracked the problem down. First my physical therapist drew attention to my nervous system, then my local MD traced it to an adverse medication reaction which was the root cause of the nervous system being in the state it’s in, and then finally an emergency phone consult with my LLMD who (I’m grateful) agreed with the theories and decided on a plan of action. I love it when my practioners all work together. This sense of synergy really benefits the patient!

So this week I’m working on getting these symptoms calmed down. I really couldn’t continue to function in the state I was/am in; it’s just too much. I felt that I was continuously holding back the floodgates. Any time I relax my muscles, especially those in my face, the spasms start. Every. Single. Time. I’m so tense right now it’s ridiculous.

When my muscles start going it starts in my eyes. They begin to flutter. Then my right eyebrow and surrounding muscles start. It moves next to my right eye, then down to my lips. Usually last to hit is my nose. It twitches back and forth and every time it does all I can think of is Bewitched!

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if I could make some magic happen in this scenario?

I’ve always wanted to be able to twitch my nose like Samantha and clean up a mess, or find a lost object. Maybe I’d magically fill my pill containers or change the flavor of my Mepron. The list of things a girl with Lyme could do if she could “twitch” her nose with magic is endless!

The mind boggles.

I could make the battery on my kindle last longer, bring something I’d forgotten in another room right to my lap, turn off the lights off when they trigger my headaches, make my favorite movie play on tv, have the dishes clean themselves, or simply just twitch up a cup of tea when I’m feeling like a cuppa.

Endless, the list is endless I tell you!

What would you do if you could magically “twitch” your nose Samantha style?

My mom and I were discussing this in the car today. Suddenly we realized… if I could “twitch”, then I could call up Dr. Bombay!

Remember how to do it? A witch simply had to call out:

“Calling Dr. Bombay! Calling Dr. Bombay, Emergency! Come right away!”

And magically Dr. Bombay would appear in a cloud of smoke right then and there. He’d be dressed in an outrageous outfit and be understandably miffed from being dragged away from whatever it was he had been doing at the time – usually his nurse.

But then he’d pull out the professional stoppers and get right down to business. The quicker the better, so he could get back to that nurse.

He’d listen to the problem and pull out some magical, mysterious witchdoctor examination tool. Wasn’t there a keyboard he played that did something?

Before long he’d know exactly what the problem was and how to fix it! I think my chances to be cured would be much improved with Dr. Bombay! He’s got magic on his side. Centuries and centuries of wisdom. And a small flair for the dramatic.

I’d much rather have Dr. Bombay consult on my case than Dr. House (as much as I loved him) any day!

Only it was never really that simple… more often than not he required some hard to find ingredients to cure the illness. There was a sleazy witch apothecary who sold potions and ingredients. Or there was always the chance that somebody would need to go back to the 16th century or something in order to get an ingredient like the tail feather of a dodo bird.

Somebody would need to go off in search of the ingredients while the sick person waited at home, and hopefully didn’t get worse. Dr. Bombay would disappear, only to be called back when all the ingredients were gotten.

My mom has volunteered to go off on the quest in search of the hard to find, magical ingredients to cure me! She’s prepared to battle a dodo bird for it’s tail feather or blend into the king’s court in the 16th century.

What a mom!

Now I just need to get the ball rolling… next time the muscle spasms come on I’m hoping not just for a twitch, but I want a “twitch”.

And you better bet I’ll be thinking, “Calling Dr. Bombay! Calling Dr. Bombay, Emergency! Come right away!” .

All my love,

molly

Another Lyme friend of mine shared this photo on Facebook, and I immediately sat back in my chair as a wave of understanding rolled over me. Every sane human being is searching at one point or another in their lives for something that speaks to their soul as a purpose. There’s such a deep meaning to that word. Purpose. It’s daunting. More than that though – it’s hopeful. 

Purpose

I feel that those of us who are chronically ill must intrinsically look to the concept of purpose differently than others at times. 

I don’t know about you, but my purpose at this point in my life, in my own unique journey, is to fight for a healthier me. I wake up every day with the intention to help my body win this fight. Medications, nutritious foods, healing energy, positive affirmations and laughter are all tools in my arsenal.

One day my purpose will change. I will be a healthier me and I’ll be ready to take the next step in my life. But today? I did have a rough morning. As I place my hand over my heart I feel my hopes and dreams surging through my body. I feel the life I have in me. I feel the purpose. I am the purpose. And I’m not giving up.

 

peace & healing,

molly

One of the worst aspects of Lyme is the setbacks. Lyme is a disease that keeps on giving – one new symptom after another.

I’ve been quiet for so long on this blog, but I’ve thought about it and you who read it, nearly every week! I spent a long time this afternoon going back into my archives and rereading many of my posts. I’ve had so many up’s & down’s while treating this disease, I’d forgotten most of them. Perhaps I chose to forget them, who knows.

I think it’s time now for me to post an update on my progress and my life (or lack thereof) since it’s been so long since I have.

2011 has not been the best year for me, medically speaking. It feels like one big experiment-gone-wrong. I don’t remember a time this year that I fell well, really well. And it’s June already. Half of the year is gone!

I’m going to be honest. I feel worse now that I did at this point last year. Last summer I was in much better shape! I was excited and felt like I was finally on the right track in my treatment. Now fast-forward to this spring… I’m having a repeat of spring 2009. I’m going through the exact same symptoms, diagnoses, and experiences. I feel as though I’m reliving this part of my treatment.

Today is day 36 of a life-consuming pressure headache. At times, I’ve become non-functioning because of the pain of this headache. Some of you may remember I went through this in 2009 as well. My POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is back with a vengeance, and my fatigue is insane. I don’t know about you, but I live on my couch. We have a symbiotic relationship.

Since I was following a similar pattern to 2009 we immediately thought of my eyes. Were my optic nerves swollen again? So in I went to be checked out. After many weeks of patience, and follow-ups, I was told on Friday that I need another spinal tap. I had 3 in 2009. I was really, really hoping those would be enough for a lifetime! I’m scheduled to have my 4th done this Thursday morning. Better sooner rather than later. I’ll know the results sooner this way, and hopefully have some answers. My neuro-opthamologist is LL and is concerned that I may be experiencing pseudotumor cerebri, a condition where the brain behaves as if there is a tumor present, but there is none. The number one symptom of this is unexplained increased intracranial pressure, which is what the spinal tap is for on Thursday.

However, I don’t know what to wish for. Do I want to have pseudotumor cerebri – another medical condition that is reversible, but needs medication and/or invasive assistance? Or do I wish for a normal, low pressure from the spinal tap and therefore have all of this be attributed to random Lyme-related symptoms? I just don’t know.

In addition to that development, I’m now completely off of my Lyme protocol. My LLMD and opthamologist told me to back off for now until things calm down. I was put on beta blockers a few weeks ago to calm my rapid heart rate and I’ll be referred to a cardiologist sometime this summer. I think the beta blockers have helped the POTS a bit and the fatigue, thankfully! My LLMD believes that m adrenals are a problem again and I’m most likely iron-deficient. I had a slew of blood tests done on Friday and I’ll learn more in a few weeks.

I’m afraid my LLMD is feeling overwhelmed by me. I’m not getting any better yet, and she’s afraid of making me worse. I’m taking this all one day at a time, but I really am beginning to feel overwhelmed myself!

I’ll be back soon. I’ve missed you all!

Wishing you health & healing,

molly

 

Every day is a journey filled with twists and turns. Every day, if you smile, you will feel alive, my son. — Santosh Kalwar

I’ve always been a firm believer in the knowledge that life isn’t all black and white. We live in the gray, and we make the best we can of what we’re given.

However… I never thought that the concept of being “healthy” would appear to me as something nondescriptly gray. Theoretically it’s such a clear-cut, simple issue. Not always so.

I feel as though I’m adrift. I’m bobbing along in the waves waiting for the clarity that calm waters will bring.

I have so much to share with you! You’ll have to be patient with me as I grapple with the correct way to explain what has happened to me in the last few months of my Lyme treatment journey. Tonight, I’ll share the most important part.

My doctor and I (for various reasons I’ll explain at some point) decided to take me off of all my pharmaceutical antibiotics this month. It’s been just over two weeks now, and I’m lost. I have absolutely no idea how my body feels about the change. I have had such trying months since November, that I was truly not sure what to expect.

I’m being treated for an intestinal yeast infection in the interim. Which – if I may sideline for a moment – sucks! My abdomen is still swollen and I believe I had a significant herx right after beginning treatment.

Since the 11th I have had days some good days, and some horrible, and too many in-between. Nothing is constant. I’m searching for clues, taking mental notes, observing myself. Some symptoms are better and others are worse.

I’m adrift, keeping my head above water in the gray. I’m frustrated. But at least I’ve earned myself a medication vacation for a while :)

 

Wishing health & happiness abound,

molly

 

“Each time we face a fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” -Unknown

I am writing this in response to an article from the Chicago Tribune titled “Chronic Lyme disease: A dubious diagnosis”. You may have read it, if not you can find it here.

After reading this article I was speechless. I wasn’t fuming, or shaking in anger. I wasn’t outraged. I was sad. Sad, because the disease that I suffer from is being called “dubious”; because I saw the errors, the biased misrepresentation of people that I respect.

I’d like to tell you my story.

My name is Molly. I’m an eighteen year old girl who has been sick for eight long years. I don’t remember what it feels like to be well. I have chronic Lyme Disease. I don’t ask for your sympathy, just your empathy while I tell you about the last eight years of my life.

While I was in 5th grade I was in a serious car accident. I was told that besides some impressive bruises I was going to be absolutely fine. Fast forward 6 months. I began to experience severe vertigo, nausea, trembling, and sound sensitivities. In order to walk I had to hold onto walls around me. The stairs in my house were a major obstacle; they looked like they were miles long to me, simply stretching farther than I could comprehend. I can remember the walls spinning around me while I was lying in bed. Almost any sound at all was excruciatingly loud.

I was too sick to continue attending school.

I saw countless doctors, specialists, and therapists. No one had a clear answer for my parents or I of what had happened to me, a seemingly normal girl. Eventually we were told that I was suffering from a Vestibular Disorder, finding a 50% deficit causing the dizziness. A nationally-renowned surgeon wanted to do exploratory surgery to “fix” the problem, even though this had a possibility of resulting in facial paralysis. Instead I went through vestibular therapy for months and very slowly my life began to slide back towards normal. I attended half days at my middle school. I would come exhausted and fatigued but I was happy to have something of my life back.

For the next two years I learned to live with and accept the dizziness and other remaining symptoms; I adapted.

After starting high school, I began to experience several more odd symptoms. This time they were wide-spread body aches, pains, fatigue, and migraines in addition to my previous symptoms. Once again, the doctors were clueless. It didn’t make sense. We consulted specialists and were told that my symptoms were almost textbook for Fibromyalgia, although it was rare for a fourteen year old to be diagnosed with FMS. Sure enough I passed the exam with flying colors. Now I had two diagnoses.

In reality my body was no longer able to suppress the infections we never knew I had.

I was unable to continue attending school, and was forced to withdraw once again. I was in severe pain, at all times. It was relentless. We tried to manage the pain, but the more pain I was in, the dizzier I became. I was in a vicious cycle of symptoms that had a tendency to feed off of one another. I don’t recall much of my life at this time. Entire days would go by without me getting out of bed, or moving from the couch other than to use the bathroom. I was undeniably sick and my doctors were at a loss as to how to treat me.

I was accused multiple times of faking my illness to get attention and to get out of schoolwork. I was told that I was depressed and these symptoms were all in my head. I cried until I could cry no more. At that point I was truly angry. Frustrated, I refused to go to new doctors. I felt that they had failed me. Instead my parents suggested I see an acupuncturist to help with pain management. It is with this that the story of my road to recovery begins. My acupuncturist worked miracles, but I still wasn’t healthy. Something was still wrong. She referred me to a new doctor. Putting aside my fears, I agreed to try one more doctor. Maybe they would have the answer.

After discussing my situation my new doctor suggested testing for Lyme disease. My parents and I were in disbelief. “Lyme? Really? Lyme can do this? Wait – I never had a rash!” Well, yes, it turns out Lyme can do this. It has. I’m the living proof. And most chronic Lyme sufferers never see a rash. This is a complex and mystifying disease. It’s not fully understood, and although there is a recognized treatment for acute Lyme Disease, there is not yet a specific treatment plan for people like me – people who were not diagnosed immediately after being bit by a tick. I have no clue when I contracted Lyme, but I have test results to show that I do indeed suffer from this infection, and other tick-borne infections as well.

My disease is invisible. You cannot see it but my body is fighting for it’s life. Each and every day I struggle to maintain the small improvements I’ve made under the advisement and treatment of my doctor. I’ve been treating these chronic infections for almost two years, and I’m not done yet. I’m not done because I’m not yet well. I still have dozens of symptoms. I’m still sick but I don’t look like it. I am a functioning person, active in my community and the feeling of life is within my grasp.

I have no timeline; I can’t tell you when I will be healthy once again, but I will continue to fight for the remission of the infections that riddle my body.

My Lyme Disease is not the IDSA Lyme Disease. I am not faking, or lying, nor am I uneducated about the controversies and possible risks of the treatment of my disease. I don’t want to dwell on the politics of Lyme Disease. I just want to inform you, and ask of you to look at both sides of the story of Lyme Disease. I’m sorry, but the article that I’ve referred to has simply not covered the whole story. The truth lies in what is missing. There simply isn’t enough information out there yet, and the information available to us is split between two distinctly different camps of people. That is abundantly clear.

It should not be patients vs. researchers/doctors when it comes to awareness and treatment of a deadly disease. How will the sick ever receive the help and care that they need if we must continue to fight, and in some cases, educate those around us?

I find the inaccuracies of what has been reported sickening, and that is coming from a chronically sick teenager. I don’t mess around with that word.

Did you know that the Red Cross has restrictions on blood donations by anyone who has contracted Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)? If it is a chronic infection, they will not accept your blood donation. If you were infected and treated acutely, you may donate but they will not accept a donation until 6 – 12 months after you are fully recovered. The Red Cross also stipulates that you may not donate if you have ever been diagnosed with Babesiosis, another tick-borne disease.

What possible sense does this make? The CDC and the IDSA do not acknowledge the diagnosis of chronic Lyme infections, but the Red Cross does and further stipulates specific restrictions on acute infections?

Cleary the medical world is caught in a web of conflicting opinions, and sadly those unlucky enough to suffer from this disease have been pulled into it as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. This is my life. I have chronic Lyme Disease, and I live with it every day. I have missed over four years of school in the last eight years. I have put my life on hold while I treat this debilitating disease that is misunderstood, misrepresented, and scoffed at. I take more pills and supplements than I can count. I wake up each day unsure of what it has in store for me. I am no less sick because of the name of my disease. And I speak for all those without a voice who are fighting the same struggle as well.

I’m grateful for the brave doctors who have stepped out of the shadows to support their patients with chronic Lyme. They are our guiding lights, our tow ropes, and our life preservers. They don’t deserve to be punished for doing what they and their patients believe is the right course of medicine.

Chronic Lyme is real. Educate yourselves.

Please take a moment to read the original response, “My Lyme Disease is not the IDSA Lyme Disease” by Ashley Van Tol, who was quoted in the Chicago Tribune article.

Several other Lyme patients have taken a stand and written responses to this article as well, sharing why their Lyme Disease is not the IDSA Lyme Disease.

Here are just a handful:

Alix’s letter- http://bit.ly/gJoITn

Andrew’s letter- http://bit.ly/efOBxw

Kim’s letter- http://bit.ly/g7MRT9

Brooke’s letter- http://bit.ly/hweVql

Eric’s letter- http://bit.ly/ibWfPW

Candice’s letter – http://bit.ly/hdyj4z 

 

Wishing you health, healing, and understanding,

Molly

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